Sale Sharks have removed a potential roadblock for fans by shifting games from Friday nights to weekends in order to avoid rush-hour traffic.
Severe traffic problems around the area have meant that the fixtures, which have been played under the floodlights on a Friday evening since 2002, will now be played on Saturdays.
Large numbers of disgruntled fans had called for a change after experiencing difficulties traveling to and from the AJ Bell stadium.
The move has been agreed for next season as Sharks’ co-owner Brian Kennedy explained the decision was an attempt to halt the slide in fan numbers despite performances improving on the pitch.
“The club have played Friday night rugby since 2002, but with the move to the new stadium in 2012, the attendances have dropped off despite the team playing winning rugby this season,” he said.
“We have taken on board the feedback from our supporters and the main reason for non-attendance would appear to be transport problems that accompany Friday evening games.
“We have played two Saturday afternoon games in 2014 and our supporters tell us that they have a more relaxed journey to the stadium and enjoy their experience better.”
The switch will be reviewed once the construction of a new road and bridge is completed to make access easier to the stadium and, in the meantime, the club will continue to provide a shuttle bus service from the Trafford Centre.
Gordon McKie, Chairman of Sale Sharks, added his support to the change.
“Saturday afternoon kick off times will allow us to reach out to a much bigger potential audience across the wider community and schools.
“On the transport front, the difficulties in reaching the stadium on a Friday evening are well documented and we believe our supporters will be able to make a day out of game-day on Saturdays rather than having to rush to and from the stadium on Friday evenings.”
“I know this decision will not be popular for everybody but we ask our fans to continue to support us as we believe that the decision is in the best interests of the club at this time’’
The decision has had a mixed reaction from Sale who have taken to an online forum to air their views.
One eager fan, Clutch, was delighted with the change and posted his feelings on the forum.
“I’m delighted with this news. Rugby during daylight, better quality of match guaranteed. Joy!! I do feel for those who cannot attend at that time though.”
While Penalty Try was not happy about the switch.
“WORST POSSIBLE NEWS!!! I hope all those that moaned about Fridays are forced to purchase season tickets for their whole families!!!!”
“I am one very pi55ed off Sharks fan!!!!!!”
Image courtesy of Yentonian Television Productions, via YouTube, with thanks